USCIS announced on April 7, 2017, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2018. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the FY18 cap lottery selection.

Please contact an attorney with Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice to discuss any questions you may have about H-1B sponsorship or alternatives to the H-1B visa.

Update –  NEW BOSTON EVENT DATE: Due to safety concerns surrounding the recent snow storm, Mintz Levin rescheduled the Boston Immigration Seminar to Thursday, March 2. To register, please click here or see below. We hope you can join us!

On February 9th (Boston) and February 16th (New York), our very own Kevin McNamaraSusan Cohen, and Bill Coffman will lead a live seminar designed for in-house counsel, immigration specialists, HR professionals, talent managers, and other internal stakeholders to review changes affecting the hiring and continued employment of foreign nationals. Topics will include:

  • Worksite visit preparation
  • Record-keeping requirements
  • The new Form I-9 and the importance of E-Verify compliance
  • How to prepare for increased scrutiny at a US port of entry
  • New high-skilled worker regulations
  • Strategies and alternatives for H-1B visa cap and prospects for FY 2018

Don’t miss this important event.  For additional details and registration, please contact Cassie Bent at CMBent@mintz.com!

In light of the general unavailability of H-1B visas due to the limited and inadequate H-1B visa quota, it is more important than ever that U.S. employers and highly skilled foreign nationals be able to take maximum advantage of exemptions from the quota.  While exemptions to the quota are laid out in the immigration law, until now nuances and variations relating to these exemptions have been discussed only in USCIS policy memoranda and informal guidance.  Programs that facilitate the employment in the U.S. of foreign entrepreneurs such as Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) programs rely heavily on the exemptions available in the immigration law, as do a myriad of private companies which depend on foreign talent to drive their business in the U.S.  For all employers relying on exemptions from the H-1B quota, it is critical that the rules and parameters be crystal clear.  Therefore, the publication by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on November 18, 2016 of a regulation clarifying and crystallizing prior policy and informal guidance is a welcome development.  The regulation comes into effect on January 17, 2017, and I summarize it below.  No one can predict with certainty whether the incoming Trump administration will allow the rule to stand or will take action to rescind it, so stay tuned for future postings on this topic.

In a final regulation published on November 18, 2016 which takes effect on January 17, 2017, DHS has clarified the requirements and parameters associated with cap-exempt employment of H-1B workers by nonprofit entities that are affiliated with or related to an institution of higher education or other cap-exempt institutions. This final regulation also clarifies that governmental research organizations, also exempt from the H-1B cap, include federal, state and local organizations whose primary mission is the performance or promotion of basic or applied research.

Continue Reading Cap-Exempt H-1B Employment Clarified by DHS

Late this spring, two lawsuits were filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking information about and challenging the administration of the H-1B visa lottery process.

The first lawsuit was filed by two immigration organizations – American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) – who “teamed up” to file a lawsuit requesting information about the lottery process.

The second lawsuit is a class action filed on behalf of two companies and their employees. This lawsuit claims that the H-1B lottery process is illegal because the language of the statute does not allow for a lottery. Continue Reading Lawsuits Question Procedure and Substance of H-1B Lottery

As a result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, higher immigration fines and penalties will go into effect on August 1, 2016.   The fines and penalties cover Form I-9 paperwork violations, the unlawful employment of immigrant workers, certain temporary work visa programs, and immigration-related discrimination in hiring and employment. While these fines come into effect on August 1, they will be used for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, the day the bill was signed into law.

Continue Reading Higher Immigration Penalties for I-9 and Other Violations Going Into Effect August 1, 2016

The diversity visa green card lottery has been an important part of U.S. immigration law for the last 20 years.  It allows 55,000 foreign nationals to immigrate each year and was implemented to fulfill the worthy goal of increasing the diversity of immigrants in the U.S.  This policy is implemented each year after government analysis of the countries of origin of immigrants in other green card categories and then allocating the 55,000 green cards allowed by law amongst those underrepresented countries of origin.

There is another immigration lottery that occurs around this time of year for one of the most essential visa categories to U.S. business—the H-1B. You may have read my post on this subject last year, and unfortunately this year’s post looks quite similar, because almost nothing has changed.  Continue Reading Immigration Policy By Lottery? Another Year, Nothing Changes.

In 2014, Massachusetts created the Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program (GEIR), a program meant to capitalize on the opportunities provided by concurrent H-1B employment.  Under this program, universities partnered with the Commonwealth to provide foreign entrepreneurs with relevant, part-time employment opportunities that carried cap-exempt H-1B status.  This part-time employment authorization then enabled the entrepreneurs to apply for a concurrent H-1B petition, which would also be cap-exempt, to allow them to work on getting their business off the ground.

Continue Reading H-1B Alternatives Series: Concurrent H-1B Employment

Our series exploring alternatives to the H-1B continues with foreign trade and treaty visas.

Was your petition one of the estimated 148,000 not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery? Is your client from one of the 79 countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce or navigation?

A free trade or treaty based visa may serve as a good alternative during times of H-1B unavailability. Both the TN and E visa categories have flexible features that can be instrumental to establishing a U.S. presence for a foreign company.

Continue Reading H-1B Alternatives Series: Flexibility in Foreign Trade and Treaty Visas